Retail Sales Strengthen at Holiday Time

By Robert Hughes

Today’s retail sales report from the Commerce Department contained more good signs for the holiday shopping season, as consumers focus on small-ticket items.

Total retail sales were up 0.2 percent, as the categories of clothing, sporting goods and leisure, restaurants, general merchandise, online, grocery stores, and “miscellaneous” all had a strong month.

Gasoline was down 0.8 percent, due largely to lower prices. Furniture, home repair, and curiously, automobiles (despite a strong unit number) were weak categories.

Overall, the report shows consumers were spending at a pretty healthy pace, providing a good start to the holiday spending season.  Consumers seem to be focusing on smaller purchases, both discretionary items and staples, that would be largely consistent with holiday shopping and entertaining.

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Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 following more than 25 years in economic and financial markets research on Wall Street. Bob was formerly the head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed equity investment strategy combining top-down macro analysis with bottom-up fundamentals. Prior to BBH, Bob was a Senior Equity Strategist for State Street Global Markets, Senior Economic Strategist with Prudential Equity Group and Senior Economist and Financial Markets Analyst for Citicorp Investment Services. Bob has a MA in economics from Fordham University and a BS in business from Lehigh University.